Arakhin 15b:2ערכין ט״ו ב:ב
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15bט״ו ב

{שמות טז } אל תצאו ויצאו אל תותירו ויותירו

Do not go out, as indicated in the verse: “And Moses said: Eat that today; for today is a Sabbath for the Lord; today you will not find it in the field” (Exodus 16:25). But nevertheless there were people who went out to look for manna, as it is written: “And it came to pass on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather, and they found none” (Exodus 16:27). The verse also states: “And Moses said to them: Let no man leave any of it until the morning” (Exodus 16:19), and there were people who left it until morning, as it states: “But they did not listen to Moses; and some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and rotted; and Moses was angry with them” (Exodus 16:20).

שנים בשליו ראשון ובשליו שני בשליו ראשון {שמות ט״ז:ג׳ } בשבתכם על סיר הבשר

The Gemara continues its elucidation of the baraita: There were two trials relating to the quail, one was on the first occasion when the quail appeared, and the other on the second occasion the quail appeared. The Gemara clarifies: The trial of the first quail is described in the verse: “And the children of Israel said to them: Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3). Immediately afterward the quail arrived, as the verse states: “And it came to pass in the evening, that the quail came up, and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew round about the camp” (Exodus 16:13).

בשליו שני (במדבר יא, ד) והאספסוף אשר בקרבו

The second trial of the quail is described in the verse: “And the mixed multitude that was among them desired; and the children of Israel also wept on their part, and said: Would that we were given meat to eat” (Numbers 11:4). Later the verse states: “And there went forth a wind from the Lord, and brought across quails from the sea and let them fall by the camp, about a day’s journey on this side and a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth” (Numbers 11:31).

בעגל כדאיתיה במדבר פארן כדאיתיה

The Gemara concludes its detailing of the Jewish people’s ten trials of God: The trial of the golden calf is as it is described in the Torah (Exodus, chapter 32), and the trial in the wilderness of Paran is as it is described in the Torah (Numbers, chapter 13).

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי יוסי בן זימרא מאי דכתיב (תהלים קכ, ג) מה יתן לך ומה יוסיף לך לשון רמיה אמר לו הקב"ה ללשון כל אבריו של אדם זקופים ואתה מוטל כל אבריו של אדם מבחוץ ואתה מבפנים ולא עוד אלא שהקפתי לך שתי חומות אחת של עצם ואחת של בשר מה יתן לך ומה יוסיף לך לשון רמיה

§ The Gemara returns to the topic of malicious speech. Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra: What is the meaning of that which is written: “What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done for you, you deceitful tongue” (Psalms 120:3)? The Holy One, Blessed be He said to the tongue: All the other limbs of a person are upright, but you are lying horizontally. All the other limbs of a person are external, but you are internal. And moreover, I have surrounded you with two walls, one of bone, i.e., the teeth, and one of flesh, the lips. What shall be given to you and what more shall be done for you, to prevent you from speaking in a deceitful manner, tongue?

אמר ר' יוחנן משום ר' יוסי בן זימרא כל המספר לשון הרע כאילו כפר בעיקר שנאמר (תהלים יב, ה) אשר אמרו ללשוננו נגביר שפתינו אתנו מי אדון לנו

Furthermore, Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra: Anyone who speaks malicious speech is considered as though he denied the fundamental belief in God. As it is stated: “Who have said: We will make our tongue mighty; our lips are with us: Who is lord over us” (Psalms 12:5).

ואמר ר' יוסי בן זימרא כל המספר לשון הרע נגעים באים עליו שנאמר (תהלים קא, ה) מלשני בסתר רעהו אותו אצמית וכתיב התם {ויקרא כה } לצמיתות ומתרגמינן לחלוטין

And Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra says: Anyone who speaks malicious speech will be afflicted by leprous marks coming upon him, as it is stated: “Whoever defames his neighbor in secret, I will destroy him [atzmit]; whoever is haughty of eye and proud of heart, I will not suffer him” (Psalms 101:5). And it is written there: “And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity [letzmitut]; for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and settlers with Me” (Leviticus 25:23). And we translate this term letzmitut as laḥalutin, in perpetuity or confirmed.

ותנן אין בין מצורע מוסגר למצורע מוחלט אלא פריעה ופרימה

Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra continues: And we learned in a mishna (Megilla 8b): The difference between a quarantined leper, i.e., one examined by a priest who found his symptoms inconclusive, and who must therefore remain in isolation for a period of up to two weeks to see if conclusive symptoms develop, and a confirmed [muḥlat] leper, one whose symptoms were conclusive and the priest declared him a definite leper, is only with regard to letting the hair on one’s head grow wild and rending one’s garments. A confirmed leper is obligated to let the hair on his head grow wild and rend his garments; a quarantined leper is not. The similarity in the terms teaches that one who speaks malicious speech will be afflicted with leprous marks.

אמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (ויקרא יד, ב) זאת תהיה תורת המצורע זאת תהיה תורתו של מוציא שם רע

Reish Lakish says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “This shall be the law of the leper [metzora] in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought to the priest” (Leviticus 14:2)? This means that this shall be the law of a defamer [motzi shem ra].

ואמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב (קהלת י, יא) אם ישוך הנחש בלא לחש ואין יתרון לבעל הלשון לעתיד לבא מתקבצות כל החיות ובאות אצל נחש ואומרות ארי דורס ואוכל זאב טורף ואוכל אתה מה הנאה יש לך אומר להם וכי מה יתרון לבעל הלשון

And Reish Lakish says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “If the serpent bites before it is charmed, then what advantage is there to the master of the tongue” (Ecclesiastes 10:11). What is the connection between the serpent and the master of the tongue? In the future, all the animals will gather and come to the serpent and will say to it: A lion tramples with its paws to kill its prey and eats; a wolf tears with its teeth to kill its prey and eats. But you, what benefit do you have when you bite, as you cannot eat every animal that you kill? The serpent will say to them: And what is the benefit to the master of the tongue that speaks malicious speech?

ואמר ריש לקיש כל המספר לשון הרע מגדיל עונות עד לשמים שנאמר (תהלים עג, ט) שתו בשמים פיהם ולשונם תהלך בארץ

And Reish Lakish says: Anyone who speaks malicious speech increases his sins until the heavens, as it is stated: “They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth” (Psalms 73:9). In other words, while his tongue walks on the earth, his sin reaches the heavens.

אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא כל המספר לשון הרע ראוי לסוקלו באבן כתיב הכא אותו אצמית וכתיב התם (איכה ג, נג) צמתו בבור חיי וידו אבן בי

Rav Ḥisda says that Mar Ukva says: Anyone who speaks malicious speech, it is appropriate to stone him with stones. It is written here: “Whoever defames his neighbor in secret, I will destroy him [atzmit]” (Psalms 101:5), and it is written there: “They have destroyed [tzamtu] my life in the dungeon, and have cast stones upon me” (Lamentations 3:53).

ואמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא כל המספר לשון הרע אמר הקב"ה אין אני והוא יכולין לדור בעולם שנאמר תהלים קא, ה) מלשני בסתר רעהו אותו אצמית גבה עינים ורחב לבב אותו לא אוכל אל תיקרי אותו לא אוכל אלא אתו לא אוכל ואיכא דמתני לה על גסי הרוח

And Rav Ḥisda says that Mar Ukva says: With regard to anyone who speaks malicious speech, the Holy One, Blessed be He says about him: He and I cannot dwell together in the world. As it is stated in the verse: “Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, I will destroy him; whoever is haughty of eye and proud of heart, I will not suffer him” (Psalms 101:5). Do not read the phrase as: “I will not suffer him [oto],” but as: With him [ito] I cannot bear to dwell. God is saying that He cannot bear having this person in the world with Him. And there are those who teach this notion of God’s not being able to tolerate a certain type of person in reference to the arrogant, i.e., they apply it to the last part of the verse: Proud of heart.

אמר רב חסדא אמר מר עוקבא כל המספר לשון הרע אומר הקב"ה [לשר של] גיהנם אני עליו מלמעלה ואתה עליו מלמטה נדוננו שנאמר (תהלים קכ, ד) חצי גבור שנונים עם גחלי רתמים אין חץ אלא לשון שנאמר (ירמיהו ט, ז) חץ שחוט לשונם מרמה דבר

Rav Ḥisda further says that Mar Ukva says: With regard to anyone who speaks malicious speech, the Holy One Blessed be He says about him to Gehenna: I will be on him from above, and you will be on him from below, and together we will judge him and punish him. As it is stated: “Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of broom” (Psalms 120:4), and the word “arrow” means nothing other than the tongue, as it is stated: “Their tongue is a sharpened arrow; it speaks deceit. One speaks peaceably to his neighbor with his mouth, but in his heart he lies in wait for him” (Jeremiah 9:7).

ואין גבור אלא הקב"ה שנאמר (ישעיהו מב, יג) ה' כגבור יצא גחלי רתמים היינו גיהנם

Mar Ukva continued: And the word “mighty” in Psalms 120:4 means nothing other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “The Lord will go forth as a mighty man, He will stir up jealousy like a man of war; He will cry; He will shout aloud, He will prove Himself mighty against His enemies” (Isaiah 42:13). And as for the coals of the broom tree [gaḥalei retamim] that burn for a long time, this is an allusion to Gehenna.

אמר רבי חמא בר' חנינא מה תקנתו של מספרי לשון הרע אם תלמיד חכם הוא יעסוק בתורה שנא' (משלי טו, ד) מרפא לשון עץ חיים ואין לשון אלא לשון הרע שנאמר חץ שחוט לשונם ואין עץ אלא תורה שנאמר (משלי ג, יח) עץ חיים היא למחזיקים בה ואם עם הארץ הוא ישפיל דעתו שנאמר (משלי טו, ד) וסלף בה שבר רוח

Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina says: What is the remedy for those who speak malicious speech? If he is a Torah scholar, let him study Torah, as it is stated: “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but its perverseness is a broken spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). And the word “tongue” means nothing other than malicious speech, as it is stated: “Their tongue is a sharpened arrow; it speaks deceit” (Jeremiah 9:7). And the word “tree” means nothing other than Torah, as it is stated: “It is a tree of life to them that lay hold of it” (Proverbs 3:18). And if he is an ignoramus, let him humble his mind, as it is stated: “Its perverseness is a broken spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). In other words, one who perverts his tongue with malicious speech should remedy his behavior by cultivating a broken and humble spirit.

רבי אחא ברבי חנינא אומר סיפר אין לו תקנה שכבר כרתו דוד ברוח הקדש שנאמר (תהלים יב, ד) יכרת ה' כל שפתי חלקות לשון מדברת גדולות אלא מה תקנתו שלא יבא לידי לשון הרע אם תלמיד חכם הוא יעסוק בתורה ואם ע"ה הוא ישפיל דעתו שנאמר וסלף בה שבר רוח

Rabbi Aḥa, son of Rabbi Ḥanina says: If one has already spoken malicious speech, he has no remedy, as King David, inspired by Divine Spirit, has already cut him off with the punishment of karet, as it is stated: “May the Lord cut off [yakhret] all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things” (Psalms 12:4). Rather, what is his remedy beforehand, so that he does not come to speak malicious speech? If he is a Torah scholar, let him study Torah; and if he is an ignoramus let him humble his mind, as it is stated: “A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but its perverseness is a broken spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). One who is humble will not come to speak badly about another.

תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל כל המספר לשון הרע מגדיל עונות כנגד שלש עבירות עבודת כוכבים וגילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים כתיב הכא לשון מדברת גדולות וכתיב בעבודת כוכבים (שמות לב, לא) אנא חטא העם הזה חטאה גדולה

The school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Anyone who speaks malicious speech increases his sins to the degree that they correspond to the three cardinal transgressions: Idol worship, and forbidden sexual relations, and bloodshed. This can be derived from a verbal analogy based on the word “great.” It is written here: “May the Lord cut off all flattering lips, the tongue that speaks great things” (Psalms 12:4). And it is written with regard to idol worship: “And Moses returned to the Lord, and said: Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold” (Exodus 32:31).

בגילוי עריות כתיב (בראשית לט, ט) ואיך אעשה הרעה הגדולה הזאת בשפיכות דמים כתיב (בראשית ד, יג) גדול עוני מנשוא

With regard to forbidden sexual relations it is written that when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce Joseph he responded: “How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9). With regard to bloodshed it is written, after Cain murdered his brother: “And Cain said to the Lord: My punishment is greater than I can bear” (Genesis 4:13). The Torah describes each of these three cardinal sins with the word “great” in the singular, whereas malicious speech is described with the plural term “great things,” indicating that it is equivalent to all three of the other transgressions together.

גדולות אימא תרתי הי מינייהו מפקא

The Gemara asks: Granted that with regard to malicious speech the verse uses the plural: “Great things,” but the plural indicates a minimum of two. If so, one can only say that malicious speech is equivalent to two of the cardinal transgressions. The Gemara responds: Which of them could be taken out as less than the other two? All three are equal. Therefore malicious speech must be equivalent to all three.

במערבא אמרי לשון תליתאי קטיל תליתאי הורג למספרו ולמקבלו ולאומרו

In the West, Eretz Yisrael, they say: Third speech, i.e., malicious speech about a third party, kills three people. It kills the one who speaks malicious speech, and the one who accepts the malicious speech when he hears it, and the one about whom the malicious speech is said.

א"ר חמא ברבי חנינא מאי דכתיב (משלי יח, כא) מות וחיים ביד לשון וכי יש יד ללשון לומר לך מה יד ממיתה אף לשון ממיתה אי מה יד אינה ממיתה אלא בסמוך לה אף לשון אינה ממיתה אלא בסמוך לה ת"ל חץ שחוט לשונם

Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Death and life are in the hand of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Does the tongue have a hand? Rather the verse comes to tell you that just as a hand can kill, so too a tongue can kill. If you were to claim that just as the hand kills only from close by, so too the tongue kills only from close by, therefore the verse states: “Their tongue is a sharpened arrow” (Jeremiah 9:7). The tongue kills like an arrow that is fired from a bow, at a great distance.

אי מה חץ עד ארבעים וחמשים אמה אף לשון עד ארבעים וחמשים אמה תלמוד לומר שתו בשמים פיהם ולשונם תהלך בארץ

If you say that just as an arrow can kill only within the distance it can be shot, which is up to about forty or fifty cubits, so too a tongue can kill only from up to forty or fifty cubits, therefore the verse teaches: “They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth” (Psalms 73:9). This teaches that malicious speech can reach great distances, even the distance between heaven and earth.

וכי מאחר דכתיב שתו בשמים פיהם חץ שחוט לשונם למה לי הא קמשמע לן דקטיל כחץ

The Gemara asks: But since it is written: “They have set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walks through the earth” (Psalms 73:9), which teaches that malicious speech reaches between heaven and earth, why do I need that which we derived from the verse: “Their tongue is a sharpened arrow” (Jeremiah 9:7), i.e. that a tongue can kill from the distance an arrow flies? The Gemara answers: This teaches us that a tongue kills in the same manner that an arrow kills.

וכי מאחר דכתיב חץ שחוט לשונם מות וחיים ביד לשון למה לי לכדרבא דאמר רבא בעי חיים בלישניה דבעי מיתה בלישניה

The Gemara further asks: But since it is written: “Their tongue is a sharpened arrow” (Jeremiah 9:7), why do I need the verse: “Death and life are in the hand of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), which merely teaches that a tongue can kill? The Gemara answers: This verse is necessary for a statement of Rava, as Rava says: One who wants life can attain it by means of his tongue, which he can use for speaking appropriately and studying Torah. One who wants death can also attain it by means of his tongue, by using it for inappropriate and malicious speech.

היכי דמי לישנא בישא (רבא אמר) כגון דאמר איכא נורא בי פלניא אמר ליה אביי מאי קא עביד גלויי מילתא בעלמא הוא אלא דמפיק בלישנא בישא דאמר היכא משתכח נורא אלא בי פלניא [דאיכא בשרא וכוורי]

The Gemara asks: What is considered malicious speech? In other words, how is malicious speech defined and what are the limits of the prohibition? Rava said: For example, if one says: There is always fire at so-and-so’s home, indicating that they are always cooking food there. Abaye said to Rava: What did this person do wrong by saying that there is always fire in that home? His statement is merely revealing the true facts, and is not malicious speech. Rather, it is considered malicious speech if he expressed this in a slanderous manner. For example, if he says: Where else can one find fire except at so-and-so’s home, because they are always cooking food there.

אמר רבה כל מילתא דמיתאמרא באפי מרה לית בה משום לישנא בישא אמר ליה כל שכן חוצפא ולישנא בישא אמר ליה אנא כרבי יוסי סבירא לי דאמר רבי יוסי מימי לא אמרתי דבר וחזרתי לאחורי אמר

Rabba says: Any statement that is said in the presence of its master, i.e., if the subject of the statement was there, does not have any prohibition due to malicious speech. Abaye said to him: All the more so it is proscribed speech, as it is both impudence and malicious speech. Rabba said to Abaye: I hold in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosei, as Rabbi Yosei says: In all my days I never said something and then turned around to see if the person I was speaking about was standing behind me listening, as I would say it even to the person involved. He says,